Gastroesophogeal Reflux Disease (GERD), also known as Acid Reflux or "heartburn," is a common problem affecting 10 to 20 percent of the population in the United States. It is caused by dysfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) that allows stomach acid and other food particles to travel back up into the esophagus after swallowing. Symptoms can range from mild burning in the chest after eating to severe regurgitation of stomach acid and food particles back into the esophagus and mouth. In many people, lifestyle changes such as eating smaller meals and avoiding triggers may help reduce symptoms of GERD. Some suggest that apples are alkalizing, which may help reduce stomach acid, thereby "curing" acid reflux!
How Can Apples Help?
Apples are considered an alkaline food in the body. Eating apples is thought by some people to "neutralize" the acidic stomach contents, providing some relief from heartburn. Though there is not much solid evidence to back this claim, many people who have tried apples to alleviate heartburn symptoms swear by the trick.
Other Benefits of Eating Apples
Not having any food in your stomach means that the only thing in there is gastric juice, which is primarily made up of stomach acid and other digestive enzymes. Eating an apple (or any food for that matter) "bulks up" the stomach contents making them less liquid. Solid contents are not as easily regurgitated back into the esophagus. Also, eating a raw apple requires more chewing than other foods. Chewing stimulates the glands in your mouth to release saliva, which naturally reduces the acidity of stomach contents when it is swallowed.
Apples are Always a Healthy Option!
In general, the health benefits of eating apples seem to be widely accepted. There is even the well-known adage that "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." Although it has not been scientifically proven that apples will actually alleviate heartburn symptoms, everyone can agree that apples are much healthier options than other sweets and processed snacks!
What Else Can You Do?
Some other useful tricks for minimizing symptoms of acid reflux include eating smaller, more frequent meals. This helps prevent the stomach from getting too full which makes it easier for food and stomach acid to regurgitate back into the esophagus. You can also try reducing food intake 1 to 2 hours before bedtime and laying on a few pillows or a wedge since laying flat also allows food to sneak past a dysfunctional lower esophageal sphincter. Cigarette smoking and caffeine are also known triggers of acid reflux, so avoiding these may help minimize symptoms.